HSBC: The world's local bank

February 3, 2009

HSBC’s print ads are easily identifiable – a solid red border, a repeated image, and a strong one-liner that embodies their brand. HSBC’s ad campaign utilizes several strong and effective tactics to gain attention. A majority of the ads involve a single image, copied three times, with a different value printed over each copy of the image. HSBC’s tagline gives the impression HSBC understands different people and locations have different values. Promoting themselves as “The world’s local bank,” HSBC gives the feeling of having the insight on local values, combined with the strength and reliability of a global infrastructure.

In one ad campaign, a consumer is given three different values for an image, ranging from a wallet, to a car, to a detailed rug. The ad shows that different people value objects differently, and that HSBC acknowledges those differences, respecting each location’s unique needs and concerns. In the case of an ad sporting a vintage muscle car, three different values given are: Freedom. Status Symbol. Polluter. Does HSBC support and embody all those values, even including the negative connotations of pollution?

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HSBC has made noticeable changes, which helps defend against such potential distortions. These three-value ads used to run vertically, with a small triangular notch placed in the red border around the ad. The notch resembled an arrow, an arrow pointing at the third image and value within the ad, which was a negative value, like pollution. This allowed consumers to potentially view the ad as HSBC singling out one value over the other two. Now, the ads run horizontally, with the triangular notch pointing right at the HSBC logo and tagline. A much safer and clearer association. They have also shuffled the different values around in the new horizontal ads

It is a very effective campaign overall. It encourages viewers to think of their own values associated to such objects. Potentially, the viewer will then associate their own values with HSBC’s, creating a link between the viewer and HSBC. Anytime a company can accomplish this link, an advertising campaign can be seen as a success.

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